are functional words that express a relation between two elements in a
phrase. Prepositions express a relation of position or
direction, of time, of manner, of agent or other relation. Prepositions
are followed by a noun, a pronoun,
or a noun phrase.
words that qualify a verb, expressing manner, direction, degree, place
or time. They are not followed by a noun.
and prepositional adverbs
are less than forty common prepositions in English.
prepositions have related adverbs. This page looks at prepositions and
adverbs that are semantically related to prepositions, known as
There are several other types of adverb, many of them derived from
For more on this, see Adverbs
In most cases, prepositions preceed the noun
they are referring to, but this is not always the case. They can
– indeed sometimes they must – come at the
end of a sentence, notably in some relative clauses with
omission of who, or in some questions.
is at home.
Dinner is on
the table. Go to
We're going together.
Ending a sentence
with a preposition; is it OK ?
Simple answer: yes
! Lots of famous writers have done so.
However sometimes it may be better style to put the preposition in its
normal place, before the noun, if this is possible.
Yet sometimes this is not possible or practical. Look at these examples
This is the talented young
musician I was talking to you about.
you waiting for
In these situations - a relative
with omission of the relative pronoun, and a question requiring a
preposition - it is perfectly good, in indeed the best solution
possible in modern English, to leave the preposition at the end of the
The table below lists the most common prepositions of position and of
direction, and the related adverbs for each case.
In this table, less common forms and rare or
equivalent forms are indicated in brackets ( -- ).
||at, to 1
in, inside, (within)
||in, inside, within
||over, above 3
There's someone inside
- Our friends live nearby.
friends live just across
- I live
There are people inside
- He lives
mile of the airport Our house is opposite
- There are problems throughout
put all those bits into the
- He walked through
- The child threw his plate onto
can't manage to put this nail in.
- Look, now it's moving
As prepositions of direction, "at"
synonyms. "At" is not common as a preposition of direction, and is only
used with the meaning of "towards" or "in the direction of", and then
only in some contexts. Compare these two sentences.
threw the ball to John. I threw a cup at John .
You can say "I'm
going to London next week",
but it is impossible to say: "I'm going at London
2. In classic English, "out
of" is the
normal prepositon of direction.
Example: "I went
out of the house."
But increasingly, particularly in spoken English, the "of" is being
dropped, so you are likely to hear: "I
out the house".
3. There is a small difference between "over" and "above" as
prepositions of position. Above
means over, but not
So you could say "There
are clouds above London",
but it would be strange to say "There
is fog above London".
English has nine common prepositions of time : only one of these,
be used as an adverb. In other cases, another word or
phrase, sometimes quite similar, must be used.
||beforehand, before that,
||afterwards, then, later,
- I'm playing football before lunch ; but
I have an English lesson
- He goes to Paris after
he's going to Geneva.
- The package must arrive by
the end of the week / .... by
- I'm leaving in
five minutes. / I like going to
England in the
- We're having lunch today at
12.30. / Everyone
the end of the concert.
- Online ticket sales began at
8 a.m, whereupon the
- I've lived in London since
the start of 1995 / .... since I was
a child. 1
- I'm going to New York for
a week in the summer
- He worked in Dubai for
three years. / ... for
many years. 2
the holidays, he won the National Lottery.3
- He's getting a new apartment tomorrow; meanwhile
he's staying in a hotel.
- My brother's staying in London until
1. Since is used with moments in time, or with units of time,
but not with numeric quantities
We cannot say: since
three weeks. Since can also be used as an
adverb, with no following noun, and sometimes strengthened with ever,
as in :
He moved to Oxford in 1990, and he's been there ever since .
is used with numerals
(or undefined quantities) – See Since and for
is used with periods
of time; it is not used before numerals.
Prepositions - manner and
English has seven common prepositions of manner,
relation or agent: against, among, by, for, with,
- Manchester United are playing against
- He was just one among
- The Harry Potter books were written by
- I've just bought a present for
- I'm going to England next week with
- You can't play football without
- I told everyone except
And a few more prepositions:
Apart from these common prepositions, English has several more words or
phrases that can be used as prepositions.
Apart from, following, amid,
: test how well you can use English propositions . This exercise is
part of the worksheet accompanying the advanced-level English
article on Ellis
Island. You may like to read the article first.
Copyright : English Grammar - © Linguapress.com 2009-2017 except where otherwise